Salvia patens Winter Care

and its varieties, like Dot's Delight here, to be completely hardy in our free-draining soil. I always leave the dead stems on the plants until early spring.  If you garden on a wet soil then you can dig the tubers up in November and pot them up and keep with in a cold greenhouse, cold frame or even a porch.  Start collecting seed now as the stems dry and sow this in January or February in heat or a bit later in cold frames.

Collecting Salvia Seed

Late summer and autumn is time to think ahead to next year and start collecting seed of plants that will breed true such as Salvia patens here. Both the wild deep blue form and the light blue Cambridge Blue come true from seed. We found that Chilcombe (lavender flowers) does not always come true. Each flower only produces 2 or 3 seeds. When the dead flower drops wait for the husk that remains attached to the stem to turn brown and dry. Carefully cut it off and gently squeeze the seeds out of the husk into a container. You can do this as and when seed forms. Make sure you label the container as you will never remember what seed it is later.  We tend to leave the seed in an open container for a while to dry properly. Other Salvias will produce seed in the same way. Store the seed dry and cool and sow in a little bottom heat in late January / early February. These fresh plants will be flowering size by late June.

14 Sep: Janet's been collecting the seed of Salvia glutinosa ("Jupiter's Distaff") and what a sticky job it is! Best to clean the seed from the husks straight away. The species names means "very sticky" and leaves, stems and husks are all covered in sticky gum.

Salvias for the garden (part 1)

My Salvias are looking great at the moment and are one of the star plants in July.

Most people’s introductions to the wonderful world of salvias is either courtesy of sage, the well-loved herb grown from time immemorial for its culinary and medicinal value or perhaps the bright red bedding plant Salvia splendens traditionally planed with blue lobelia and white alyssum for a truly patriotic display. However, hardy, perennial salvias are becoming increasingly popular as great garden plants for people and bees.  These are not edible but make a wonderful, long-lasting display in the garden.

There are a vast array of perennial salvias to choose from including many tender types, but this month I’m focusing on the hardy, perennial European types that are great for most gardens. Next month I’ll talk about the types that come from the New World and have proved hardy in my Cheshire garden.

Of the European species, the best for general garden use are the wood sages and these are varieties of Salvia nemorosa, sylvestris and superba. They grow in dry or moist soils and can be grown in light shade or a sunny spot. In very hot, dry conditions the flowers will be over more quickly so add compost to the planting hole and water if dry.  They grow well in alkaline (chalky), neutral or mildly acid soils. Add lime annually if planting in extremely acid soils.

They have rough leaves and short spikes of flowers from June through July. If you cut them back hard after flowering they will normally oblige with more flowers in late August into September. The planting distance for these is about 12-18in apart.

They come in many shades of blue, pink, violet and also white and vary in height from 1ft through to 3ft 6in.

Snow Hill and Blue Hill (properly called by their German names Schneehügel and Blauhügel) are the shortest ones I grow and are snow-white and sky-blue respectively. Among my favourites are the slightly taller May Night (indigo blue) and East Friesland (blue) and the lovely Rose Queen (pink).

The newer variety Caradonna grows to about 2ft tall and has lovely blue flowers and black stems in summer adding to their drama.

One of the tallest is the aptly named Amethyst which grows to 3ft or slight more. This one has a very long flowering period from June to September or even October without the need to be cut back at all.

You can increase your plants by cuttings or dividing in early spring. We’ve tried seed but results can be disappointing.

Salvia transylvanica is especially tough and has deep blue flowers in mid-summer. This one can be grown from seed perfectly well.

A firm favourite with the bees is Salvia Purple Rain which has whorls of purple-blue flowers along its 2ft 6in stems throughout the summer.

Of course there are also many ornamental varieties of the herb sage for growing in a free-draining, sunny spot and you can find types with purple, golden and variegated leaves.

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